FW: [GABO-L] Name Games

Thom Harrison THarriso at MAIL.MACONSTATE.EDU
Mon Mar 4 14:59:45 UTC 2002

Controversy has been raging for a couple of days now on the Georgia
birdwatchers' listserv about the changes in common and scientific names of
birds and other species.

The post below is one of the more serious and comprehensive responses.

I thought language people would also be interested.

Macon State College

-----Original Message-----
From: Swamphen [mailto:speedyg at SWAMPHEN.NET]
Sent: Sunday, March 03, 2002 4:09 PM
Subject: Re: [GABO-L] Name Games

Hi all,

>>Somebody has also gone and added "northern" to the names of several birds
including the cardinal and mockingbird.  I don't think there is a southern
cardinal or southern mockingbird...<<

No, but there are other species of cardinal and mockingbird. Therefore the
descriptive 'northern' was added to our familiar species, to properly
distinguish them.

>>The taxinomic name of poison ivy was "toxicodendron radicans" when I was
in college but somebody changed it to "rhus radicans".<<

To be proper, "somebody" didn't change it. "Rhus" was most likely an earlier
name, and when it (the name) was re-discovered, the laws of taxonomic
priority dictated that the name must change.

>>As noted in a post earlier today, one Georgia ornithologist is under the
impression that she acquired an "October Glory Maple Tree."  There is no
such thing.  It's probably a genetically manipulated sugar maple or Japanese
maple that some clever marketer dubbed "October Glory" for the same reason
that the Miami developer named his subdivision Windy Ridge.<<

I'll assume that, being a birder, you take little interest in plants,
therefore you do not know about 'cultivars'...for example, 'Granny Smith'
apples. 'October Glory' is a cultivar of the maple tree, and is a perfectly
legitimate name.

About your Miami birds, no, the names haven't changed, but the correct name
is Red-whiskered 'Bulbul', and Blue-gray Tanagers were never established in
North America, just a few escapees here and there.

Not to be argumentative, but I do have a few pet peeves, and the Great Bird
Name Debate is one of them...

Crawfordville, Wakulla County, Florida
"In wartime, truth is so precious that she should be attended at all times
by a bodyguard of lies" - Sir Winston Churchill

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